The Obama administration rolls out its new gas mileage standards for cars and trucks Thursday. The fuel efficiency targets for 2016 model vehicles is 39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks (more than 34 mpg combined). President Obama says the new rules will "reduce our dependence on oil while helping folks spend a little less at the pump." The standards, to be phased in between 2012 and 2016, would increase fuel efficiency by 5 percent each year. Currently, cars must average 27.5 mpg and trucks must get 24 mpg.
Fact Check: How much oil will new fuel standards save, and how will the environment and individual drivers benefit?
- Light-duty vehicles subject to the new rules account for about 40 percent of all U.S. oil consumption, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The program, which covers model years 2012-2016, will conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil, the DOT estimates. That's twice the amount of oil imported from Persian Gulf countries in 2008, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. President Barack Obama says that's the equivalent of taking 58 million cars off the road for an entire year.
- The Obama administration estimates that compliance with the new rules will raise the price of each vehicle by about $1,300 (some auto-industry estimates are higher). People who purchase their vehicle outright would save enough in fuel costs over the first three years to offset the higher vehicle costs, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. And the Department of Transportation says consumers would save more than $3,000 in fuel costs over the lifetime of a model year 2016 vehicle.
- Supporters of the program say it also would encourage a greater number of alternative fuel vehicles in the near future. Gasoline and diesel currently account for about 84 percent of the energy used to transport people and goods in the United States. Cars, motorcycles and light trucks mainly use gasoline while heavy trucks, buses and trains depend mostly on diesel, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
- New EPA and NHTSA standards would cut carbon dioxide emissions for light-duty vehicles by about 21 percent in 2030 over the level that would occur without any new greenhouse gas or fuel economy standards, according to the DOT. The department says the program's greenhouse gas emission reductions would be the equivalent of removing 42 million cars from the road.
- Bottom Line:
The new fuel economy standards being signed by the president Thursday will noticeably reduce U.S. oil consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Consumers who buy new cars will pay more for them, but they'll use less gasoline. And they will save money at the pump if gas prices remain at reasonable levels.
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